Getting Better with Age: Reasons to Adopt a Senior Pet

If you’re interested in adopting a new furry family member, here are a few reasons why you should consider a senior pet:

Being at a shelter does not imply an older animal is problematic: Older pets are surrendered to our shelter for the very same reasons younger pets are, but often for reasons that have nothing to do with their behavior or personality (i.e. moving, career changes/time limitations, new babies, death of a guardian, allergies, etc.).

Senior pets need homes too! For whatever reason, senior animals are some of the hardest to find homes for – so when you adopt a senior pet, you’re truly saving a life. If not you, then who?

Age is just a number: Senior pets provide just as much love, companionship, and excitement as younger pets. No matter their age, pets still enjoy regular exercise, playtime, and TV marathons on the couch with you. Providing a home to an animal during the “golden years” can be just as rewarding and special!

“Senior” status doesn’t always always correlate with sunset years: Dogs and cats live for 10-15 years on average, and many live even longer than that. It seems rather strange that 5 year old pets are thought of as a “senior” when the majority of their years are still ahead of them. A “senior” pet has lots of love and adventures to share with you, and there are many years of love and fun still ahead!

Train less, enjoy more: Most adult dogs are already house-trained so you won’t have to go through the difficult stages of teaching house manners and cleaning up after accidents. Older dogs won’t chew your shoes and furniture like teething puppies, and adult cats have already developed their litter box routine and can be less destructive when it comes to scratching furniture- and your ankles! You can spend your time and energy welcoming your pet into their new home instead of having to train and defend your home from the habits of a younger animal.

Focus to learn: You can teach an old dog (and cat) new tricks. Older pets can focus better because they’ve mellowed. Therefore, they learn quickly.

What you see is what you get: Unlike puppies, older dogs have grown into their shape and personality. Puppies can grow up to be quite different from what they seemed at first. Adult cats are also full grown and already past that spastic kitten stage. You’ll know exactly what your getting when adopting an adult compared to a puppy or kitten. Remember, adopting is a forever commitment to that animal. The tiny puppy or fluffy kitten that catches your eye is going to become an adult just like the adult dog or cat you might be overlooking. If you don’t want an adult pet, being a temporary foster for puppies or kittens that aren’t ready for adoption yet is a wonderful option to consider!

A grateful and loving companion: Believing that you can only form a close bond with a young animal that you raise yourself is untrue. Your new furry family member can show you a level of attention and devotion that is unique to older, adopted animals. Older pets really are wiser, and somehow, older pets seem to know you gave them a home when no one else would. Many new owners form a close bond very quickly with their senior dog or cat. 

Easier Introductions: Senior pets can be easier to introduce to resident pets and settle in easily. Older pets have learned what it takes to get along with others and are less likely to invade the personal space of other pets.

Calm and relaxing: Senior pets have a very calm energy about them. Older pets are just as affectionate, but also leave you time for yourself and don’t make the kinds of demands on your time and attention that puppies and young kittens do. We’re not kidding when we say adopting two kittens is half the work, because a playmate can be an outlet for all that energy!

The reality is health problems can arise at any age. Many senior pets are happy and healthy. However, some people may hesitate to adopt an older animal (or a special needs pet) when that animal has existing medical concerns. To look at the situation optimistically, at least you have an idea of what to expect when a pet has a known medical issue. You have an informed advantage because you’re entering into the relationship fully prepared for what the animal needs from you. 

It makes you feel good! You can be a hero to a deserving animal. Almost without exception, people who adopt older animals feel a special sense of pride and purpose in opening their heart to a harder-to-adopt pet. Doing a good thing really does make you feel good!

It takes a special person to adopt a pet knowing you may have a shorter time than you’d like, but adopting a senior pet is the the ultimate gift of generosity. Next time you think about adopting a new pet, take a look at the older animals who are just as deserving of a loving home. You’ll be the love of his or her life. It’s worth it.